Rodenticide Poisoning in Cats

Rodenticide poisoning is the accidental ingestion of products used to kill "rodents" such as mice, rats and gophers. These products are common and accidental exposure is frequent. Poisoning is most commonly caused by ingestion of a product containing one of the following ingredients:

Younger and older pets tend to be more sensitive to the affects of toxicity and underlying liver disease can exacerbate toxicity.

The impact on the poisoned animal varies depending on the type of poison ingested. An animal may develop a bleeding disorder, neurological problems, gastrointestinal distress or kidney failure. In some cases, rodenticide poisoning is fatal.

What to Watch For


There is no single test that can be performed to make a definitive diagnosis of rodenticide poisoning. However, in addition to a thorough history and physical examination, your veterinarian may recommend one or more of the following tests to aid in the diagnosis.

Tests may include:


Therapy for rodenticide poisoning varies based on the type of poison ingested, the amount ingested and the length of time elapsed since ingestion. Treatments may include one or more of the following:

Additional treatments may include:

Home Care and Prevention

Prevent exposure to poisons. If you normally use rodenticides, store them with special care. When poisons are used, place them in areas in which your pets do not have access. Take special care as rodents may drag poisons within reach of pets. Remember that cats can often crawl in unlikely areas, especially if they smell other animals such as rodents.

Keep your cat indoors to minimize exposure to other people's poisons.

Many diseases mimic rodenticide poisoning. The exact types of symptoms and problems your pet will exhibit depends on the type of poison. The general types of poisons include:

Anticoagulant rodenticides

These products may cause prolonged bleeding from cuts; bloody vomit or diarrhea; hematomas (swellings under the skin containing blood); lameness due to bleeding into joints; joint swelling; rapid or labored breathing due to bleeding into the chest or lungs; weakness; collapse; and sudden death. Diseases that cause similar symptoms include the following:

Bromethalin-containing rodenticides

These products may cause severe muscle tremors, hyperexcitability, running fits, extreme sensitivity to being touched (hyperesthesia) and seizures that appear to be caused by light or noise. Less frequent symptoms include loss of ability to bark, loss of appetite, depression, lethargy and coma. Conditions that can look similar include:

Cholecalciferol-containing rodenticides

These products may cause increased thirst, increased urinations, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite and constipation. These signs are attributable to the effects of elevated calcium levels in the body and accompanying kidney failure.

Treatment In-depth

Depending on the amount of rodenticide ingested, type ingested and the length of time elapsed since ingestion treatment varies. Some patients may be treated on an outpatient basis while others require hospitalization. Treatments for rodenticide poisoning may include one or more of the following:

Standard treatment for poisoning (if within 4 to 6 hours of ingestion) includes:

In addition to the standard treatment for poisoning, each type of rodenticide requires different treatment approaches because each poison affects animals differently.

For anticoagulant rodenticide, these may include:

For bromethalin containing rodenticides, treatment may include:

For cholecalciferol containing rodenticides, these may include:

For strychnine, these may include:

For zinc phosphide containing rodenticides, these may include: